Category: Opinion

Curvy mannequins cause controversy

By Kristina Saliba, Staff Writer

Too big or too small? The Swedish mannequins are not the first to stir up controversy over size/ PHOTO BY Flickr user Maneul W.

A flood of reactions has recently surfaced due to rather curvy mannequins being displayed in a Swedish store called Åhléns, the Huffington Post reports. A photo of these uncharacteristically heavier mannequins, sporting lingerie, went viral on a Facebook group called Women’s Rights News. The caption under the photo reads, “Store mannequins in Sweden. They look like real women. The US should invest in some of these.”

There were some agreements with this statement, and of course, some disagreements. The many people who embraced the realistic quality of the mannequins commented similarly to a Facebook user who wrote in a comment on the photo, “Gorgeous and feminine” and another who commented, “Yes, now this is the normal body – show the world, change it.” Of course there were negative comments that were not so enthusiastic,  like “Skinny women are real women too” and that the mannequins were “Just another excuse to be fat.”

We’ve all heard about the studies that have recently explored the effects that media has on how people perceive their bodies. Ever since we were little, we’ve been exposed to completely unrealistic expectations of how a person should look like, from Barbie’s tiny waste to the airbrushed models on magazine covers. I think it’s great that a store took the conscious effort not to advertise “skinny” as much as most stores do. According to a 2011 article by the Washington Post, a few years ago, clothing store G.A.P came under scrutiny because of how skinny their own mannequins were.

Perhaps the heavier mannequins are a response to the recurring issue of emaciated models (real and otherwise) in the fashion world. Either way, I think it is most certainly a breath of fresh air to see an attempt at showing a different side of things.

The history of the #hashtag

By Devon Delfino, Staff Writer
@devondelfino

Apparently, even the "big man upstairs" is bragging about the extended use of the hashtag. PHOTO VIA Twitter user TheTweetOfGod

Apparently, even the “big man upstairs” is bragging about the extended use of the hashtag. PHOTO VIA Twitter user TheTweetOfGod

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Facebook plans on adding hashtags, the use of the pound symbol followed by a word or words, to its site.

It’s hard to believe that the hashtag, in its Twitter use, is less than six years old. It was originally introduced to organize tweets and track trending topics, when Chris Messina tweeted, “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?”

But hashtag usage has been mangled into something much more annoying. Within the past five and a half years or so, the evolution in use has gone from functional to bordering on the absurd.

The hashtag’s overexposure has even led to a namesake baby, little Hashtag Jameson, born in November of last year, a controversy which sparked debate about the level of integration that the internet and social media have on our lives.

I’ve often seen tweets composed solely of hashtags, (a.k.a ‘hashrash’), or the use of #hashtag, or the use of hashtags on Facebook (in case you didn’t notice, it doesn’t work; in fact, the hashtag becomes as useful as any other symbol on your keyboard outside of Twitter or Instagram).

This last misuse prompted the founding of the Facebook page, “This is not Twitter. Hashtags don’t work here,” as well as multiple Youtube video rants about improper hashtag usage. There is even a Twitter etiquette page on hashtags.org that reminds Twitter users that “Peppering your tweets with too many hashtags is not only defeating the purpose of a hashtag but also very annoying to see. Expect to get unfollowed when you do this.” But some of use still don’t seem to grasp this concept.

I hope I’m not the only one who grimaces a bit with the news of the addition of hashtags to Facebook. Twitter has always been a public broadcast network, and hashtags have only helped the site increase functionality; Facebook, however, has always been a more private and intimate means of social interaction. Hashtags make sense in a news-based context, but putting them on a social networking site can only further commercialize it.

The return of the Twinkie

By Brandon Lewis, Staff Writer
@Brandon_S_Lewis

Twinkies

Twinkies, along with other delicious Hostess snacks, will be returning to shelves this summer, according to an article by the New York Times/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Christian Cable

Attention all Twinkie lovers! The Daily Free Now’s official Twinkie reporter, aka yours truly, has good news. Your favorite snack has a good chance of returning to store shelves this summer!

I’m sure everyone remembers Hostess’s announcement that they were filing for bankruptcy last November. Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and other Hostess products have not been produced since the company’s fallout. I honestly believed that Twinkies were never going to appear in stores ever again. But they received a reprieve.

According to an article by the New York Times, in an effort to liquidate its business, Hostess has been auctioning off its various brands over the past four months. Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management agreed to buy the Hostess cake brand for a whopping $410 million. Since no other qualified bids were submitted, Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management will become the new owners of Hostess products.

In a statement, Metropoulos & Co. CEO and founder Dean Metropoulos said the firm was looking forward to having “America’s favorite snacks back on the shelf by this summer.”

So after all the drama and chaos surrounding the demise of the Hostess empire, Twinkies will likely return to stores this summer. Who would’ve thought? It’s great to see that companies actually had interest in continuing the production of Twinkies and other Hostess products like Sno Balls and Ho Hos. Americans have been enjoying these snacks for over 80 years and it would have been a shame for the snacks to just disappear from American culture. Luckily this won’t happen. All in all, I would like to personally thank Hostess for my mini-heart attack and slight depression for the past few months. I now have a new reason to look forward to the summer: an all-American snack will be returning to grocery store shelves.

The continuing gun control debate; prospects for reform

By Ann Jacob, Staff Writer

The gun control debate continues/ PHOTO VIA smartgunlaws.org

A variety of firearms laid on on the grass. The debate as to how to best change gun ownership laws continues/ PHOTO VIA smartgunlaws.org

Last Tuesday, the Team 26, a group of 26 cyclists from Newtown, CT including the father of one of the children who was killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School last December and Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) arrived in Washington, D.C. after a four hundred mile bike ride from Newtown.

Team 26 is named for the 26 students and teachers who were killed in Newtown three months ago. When the group arrived in D.C. they were greeted by well-wishers, and their objective was to talk to legislators about gun reforms.

Ultimately, the goal of the Team 26 and the other group associated with Newtown, Sandy Hook Promise Innovative Initiative is “a ‘call for ideas’ to reduce gun violence and a commitment by leading venture capitalists and angel investors to fund promising innovations in gun safety, mental health research and related new technologies.”

David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times wrote a piece last week on the odd relationship between the decline in gun ownership and the increase in gun sales. He posits that this can be attributed to a fearful few Americans purchasing many guns, while most Americans stay away from guns.  As Horsey reports, according to the General Social Survey, “the number of U.S. households with guns dropped from 50% in 1973 to 34% in 2012. This decline has shown up everywhere, including the historically gun-toting regions of the South and West.” The question remains: if gun ownership is declining and American views on guns and gun ownership is shifting, why not use this moment to develop consensus?

The New York Times created some graphs on American views’ on gun control in January, which illustrate that most Americans favor background checks on potential gun buyers, a national database of gun sales, as well as a ban on high capacity magazines. Also, most Americans favor stricter gun control laws.

So, if specific kinds of weapons that use high capacity magazines meant for the battlefield are used in mass shootings, why not limit those kinds of weapons? According to an article on Politico.com, opponents of gun control legislation, such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) state that legislation to ban specific weapons would be violating the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which grants U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. However, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) put is best in the Judiciary Committee when she questioned how many guns Americans need. Sen. Feinstein has proposed a ban on “157 different models of assault weapons, as well as magazines containing more than 10 bullets,” which is set to come before the Senate soon.

The important part of the legislation that Americans who are opposed to such legislation need to keep in mind is that even though the bill may ban 157 weapons, there are still over 2000 guns that people may purchase legally, as discussed in the Rachel Maddow Show. The bill essentially is limiting or banning the types of weapons or magazines that have been involved in the most horrific mass shootings in the last few decades.  Hopefully, the Senate and the House will come to a consensus on this issue, if not for the safety of our citizens and country, then at least for their own political futures.

Voting Rights Act renewal reviewed with skepticism

By Ann Jacob, Staff Writer

The Rosa Parks statue was revealed in Washington last Wednesday. Across the street, protestors uphold the rights she fought for as provisions in the Voting Act requiring cities and towns with a history of prejudice to submit changes in voting laws to the Justice Department for approval are debated in the Supreme Court./PHOTO VIA U.S. Government Work.

Last Wednesday, as the statue of Rosa Parks was unveiled in the U.S. Capitol building, people gathered across the street in front of the Supreme Court, to protest for the rights Parks vehemently fought for and are currently being debated in the Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder.

According to a broadcast report by USA Today, at issue are Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which stipulate that areas prone to prejudice and discrimination must request permission from the Justice Department before changing voting laws. While some legislators feel that this protocol is outdated and therefore unnecessary, others feel that these laws still offer valid protections.

Conservative members of the Supreme Court seem to be approaching the renewal of the Act with more skepticism than in past.  Justice Scalia suggested the reauthorizations by Congress could be attributed to what he called the “perpetuation of racial entitlement” (audio: just past 51min; transcript: page 47), and therefore will continue to be reinstated based off of this principle instead of the imminent threat of prejudice and discrimination that inspired the inclusion of the sections to begin with.

Other Conservative justices claim that the stipulations are directed at specific states, and are therefore unconstitutional.

Justice Breyer voiced his opinion on this, “Of course this is aimed at states. What do you think the Civil War was about? Of course it was aimed at treating some states differently than others.”

While it is true that we should not treat some states differently from other states, what I think these Supreme Court Justices fail to remember is our shared troubling history with voting. Do we not remember the Mississippi Three during the Freedom Summer? Do we not remember the march to Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge? Do we not remember the Ku Klux Klan and the discrimination of poll taxes and literacy tests?

While the picture of voting rights and voting in America is not as divisive and dangerous as it used to be, we should not forget the troubles of our recent past. Our country has come a long way to give everyone equal rights and equal protection under the law, and still has a way to go. We are on our way to perfecting our Union, but stripping minorities of protections at the poll is not a step in the right direction.

Perhaps the reason many Americans are against these Sections of the Voting Rights Act being repealed is due to the fact that Mississippi, the state from which this Supreme Court case originates from, only formally ratified the 13th amendment to the U.S. constitution abolishing slavery in February of this year. This is 148 years after it became the law! I feel that Rev. Al Sharpton best summed up the feelings of protesters when, on the steps on the Supreme Court, he said, “Last year the voter ID laws and the long lines and the ending early voting and the stopping Sunday to the polls showed that Jim Crow’s son James Crow Jr., Esquire is still trying to do what his daddy did, and that’s rob us from the right to vote.”

Dorner case lends itself to continuing gun control debate

By Heather Goldin, Staff Writer
@HeatherGoldin

In the past, guns have symbolized anything from protection and freedom to a terrible evil. But as far as I can tell, in 2013, guns seem to have been more of a tool for violence than anything else.

Obama’s gun control agenda includes many ways to eliminate gun-related crimes. One solution proposed is financing officer-training programs on how to respond to active armed attacks.

My concern is that officers won’t be properly trained for the rare occasion that a fellow officer is the one shooting.

Ill-preparedness for such circumstances seems to have been what happened in the case of former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who was fired after filing a fake police report against his training officer.

This reaction from Dorner resulted in an online revenge plan involving other LAPD officers and even their families.

You could imagine the horror when a plot straight of Law and Order: SVU appeared on the headlines of most major newspapers in the nation.

On Feb. 3, Dorner murdered the daughter of former LAPD Captain Quan and her fiancé to get back at Quan for not defending him at his hearing in 2008 for the accused fake report. From there a manhunt for Dorner ensued, but before he could be tracked down Dorner had already killed a Riverside police officer by the name of Michael Crain on February 7th.

Fast forward to a cabin in Big Bear, CA where a police force has Dorner surrounded. The search for Dorner ended here after Dorner drove to the scene in an SUV belonging to the owners of a vacant cabin Dorner was hiding out in until the owners came back. Dorner tied up Karen and Jim Reynolds before he stole their car.

According to CBS, a shoot out between ex-officer Dorner and police officers in Big Bear resulted in the killing of a deputy sheriff before Dorner killed himself with a single bullet . At that point, the location was already on fire, after officers tried to obstruct Dorner’s vision with a combination of smoke bombs and tear gas. Although the fire was not intentional, it did stop a man from taking revenge on a lengthy list of LAPD cops.

Tweets like this, sympathizing with Dorner, have offered an alternative viewpoint via social media/ IMAGE VIA Storify and Twitter user @BrianBrownNet

Tweets like this, sympathizing with Dorner, have offered an alternative viewpoint via social media/ IMAGE VIA Storify and Twitter user @BrianBrownNet

Still, according to USA Today, many that engage in social media are protesting; sympathizing with Dorner and saying they believed his claims that he faced racism and was treated unfairly. Thankfully, they don’t actually agree with his violent actions. Some supporters even went so far as to protest outside of the LAPD office last Saturday. Dorner seemed to be just an average, all around good person, which lends sympathy to his case.

Either way, the horrendous shooting spree ended with suicide by gunshot. Hopefully, new gun control policies can help to eliminate such tragic occurrences.

LOLThursday: Banana University

By Samantha Wong, Staff Writer

You think this is awkward? Banana University's Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter accounts have hundreds of photos of unsuspecting banana-eaters.

You think this is awkward? Banana University’s Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter accounts have hundreds of photos of unsuspecting banana-eaters.

The description reads, ‘Have you ever seen the movie Accepted? We’re like that but with more bananas.’ Like it says in its description, Banana University is a Facebook page, a Twitter and a Tumblr that hosts photos of Boston University students–eating bananas.

Banana University is a simple idea that ends up, after scrolling through countless photos of Boston University’s banana eaters, as a good source of entertainment. Why? Pictures upon pictures of people eating bananas becomes, in a word, awkward.

Boston University’s candid addition, which made its debut earlier this month, has become somewhat of a sensation among students. Most students are happy, proud even, to have their photos as contributions to the site, whether or not they were aware that their photos were being taken.

Bryan Cosca, CAS ‘14, one of the depicted banana-eaters says, “I think it’s funny that I’m on Banana University, I think the page is great and shows off the candid side of students we don’t normally see. It’s [also] hilarious seeing other people eating bananas.”

The hilarity from Banana University may or may not have something to do with innuendo, but regardless, Banana University is definitely becoming a household (or dorm-hold?) name.

Top 10 things (not) to get your valentine

By Olivia DeFrances, Staff Writer
@abstratinspire

Creepy? Yes. Good Valentine's Day surprise? No, not so much. PHOTO VIA tumblr.com

Creepy? Yes. Good Valentine’s Day surprise? No, not so much. PHOTO VIA tumblr.com

It’s that time of year again–Valentine’s Day. And whether it’s out of the kindness of your heart or pressure from a significant other, you probably will end up buying a gift for that special someone. If you do, it’s best to give a gift with meaning; something that pertains to their interests rather than the typical roses or chocolate. It’ll show that you really care, that you have been paying attention to that person, rather than just trying to get out of the dog house. Here are the top ten strangest, funniest, or downright rejection-worthy Valentine ’s Day gifts:

  1. When your significant other says that you don’t have to get them anything, they’re just trying to sound cute and modest. Don’t surprise them with nothing. “Look honey! I got you nothing, just like you asked!” You laugh now, but people actually do this.
  2. Anything that sings – whether it is a card or you go all the way and hire someone to surprise them at work. Nothing is more embarrassing than having “I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU” belted at you from an inanimate object or a guy in a cupid suit.
  3. Houseware. Seriously, if you’re trying to tell them they need to clean more, don’t do it on Valentine ’s Day. Nothing says “I love you” less than oven mits, a new vacuum, or a laundry basket, no matter how good the intentions are.
  4. Personal grooming objects. Ew. It’s sketchy and slightly offensive.
  5. A break up. It’s surprising, actually, the amount of people who break up ON Valentine’s Day. Kind of ironic. Maybe that was their intention? I don’t know. Just don’t do it. You will scar the other person for life.
  6. Cheap, tacky jewelry. Seriously, guys, if you’re going to go for the jewelry, just go all out. A grown woman will not appreciate plastic hearts from Claire’s.
  7. If you’re not serious yet and you get them some sort of distinctively intimate gift to insinuate being serious….well, just don’t do it. Nothing says creepy like a photo album full of each others’ baby photos after a few weeks.
  8. Cheap sidewalk stand flowers. She can tell. She can always tell. And always make sure that she’s not allergic if you go with real, good flowers. Because a severe allergic reaction was not your intended gift. And if it was, it’s time to re-think the relationship!
  9. A movie date- to a movie only you want to see.
  10. Boxer briefs.

One last tip: If you’re in a relationship, don’t worry too much. You should show your love for each other every day, not just today. And if you’re single, congratulations! You don’t have to deal with any of this nonsense.

LOLThursday

By Brandon Lewis, Staff Writer
@Brandon_S_Lewis

Every year the Super Bowl ignites national frenzy amongst sports fans. Those who can’t watch the football championship live watch it from the comfort of their living room sofas. The perks of the later option: the entertaining commercials. This year my favorite ad was the Best Buy commercial featuring the comedian and actress Amy Poehler. The commercial commences when a sales representative asks Poehler whether she needs assistance. Then Poehler goes on to ask awkward questions about the merchandise such as, “Will this one read Fifty Shades of Grey to me in a sexy voice?” The funny thing is that Poehler’s concerns are questions that us customers really want to ask but usually don’t. Like Poehler, I always wondered what makes a smart TV “smart.” And admit it, you do too. Best Buy effectively portrays the message that they have the answers to all the customers’ questions, even the unconventional ones.

“Spring Breakers:” Breaking the hearts of Disney fans world wide

By Heather Goldin, Staff Writer
@HeatherGoldin

We all love trashy teen movies, but why does it seem to be like the next career move for recently “graduated” Disney Channel stars? Is it really the smartest way to go? Actresses Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens seem to think so, judging by their decision to star in “Spring Breakers.” Directed by KIDS writer Harmony Korine, “Spring Breakers” is a movie about every way that spring break can go wrong, in the worst possible way. Between the guns, drugs and girls in bikinis, there isn’t any cliche that this movie doesn’t cover. It kind of makes me feel bad for all the parents that will have to explain to their children why they aren’t allowed to see the film starring their former Disney idols.

What inspired these previous Disney stars to go to such lengths to change their public image? Perhaps they were following the lead of former Disney child-stars (like Britney and Miley) whose careers quickly took a turn for the scandalous. Regardless, it seems Hudgens and Gomez  are determined to change the way the world views them, and fast. Some even speculate that Korine chose the girls specifically for an added shock factor. To make things more interesting, the cast also includes “Pretty Little Liars” star Ashley Benson, actor James Franco (complete with cornrows and a glimmering grill), and Korine’s wife, Rachel.

The movie seems to have a Project X-like quality to it, with less partying and more trouble making. I have a feeling, however, that it will remain the must-see movie for Spring Break.

I am still curious as to why more and more adolescent celebrities are so eager to jump on the controversial bandwagon. Do they think they need to prove to the world that they are capable of more than cheesy family entertainment? I don’t understand why they can’t switch up their roles in a less dramatic way, such as signing on to a PG-13 that doesn’t involve nudity, illegal substances, etc. Maybe even a movie with a valid, well-written plot.

Or better yet, why can’t they be happy with their success on shows aimed at younger audiences? Can you ever have too much of a good thing? I understand that in the entertainment industry sometimes you have to be a little selfish. But I think the celebrities should be a little courteous and give their fan base more notice before doing a 180.

After all, the fans are really what drive a star’s career. If everyone hates the actor, then they are far less likely to book another job in the future. The saying goes that any publicity is better than no publicity, but that can only carry someone so far. Speaking from the perspective of someone with younger siblings, I know if they catch word about this new movie they will be wondering when they can see it. Sorry girls, you can’t watch the people you look up to in their most recent movie because they smoke, swear, and strip their way through this new blockbuster.

Check out the preview and see what you think: